When I’m book hunting and I find an intriguing title, I’ll definitely look at the cover.
Irresistible? All right, so next I’ll read the blurb. The few words written on the back of the book will either convince me to buy/borrow it, or will compel me to return it to the shelf.
That’s how important a blurb is. It has the onerous responsibility – now that the title and the cover have played their roles – to get the reader to clutch the book to her chest, totter off to the nearest couch, and start reading.
In simple terms, all you have to do in the blurb is to say something about the setting, indicate the genre, hint at a trope (if there is one), introduce your main characters, highlight the conflict and the stakes, and end with something enigmatic.
Hah! It isn’t that simple as the following example shows. This is the cover and title of one of my books:
This is a hypothetical Blurb [Sample one]
Note how this blurb has all the right elements but lacks imagination. Shockingly, it says nothing at all about fake fiancés, thus failing to align with the title.
Now take a look at this one:
I would hope so!
Before you chew off the ends of your fingers wondering what to put in your book blurb, here are some tips that can bring home the reader [try and avoid cliches in the blurb, though]:
- Your book blurb cannot be so eloquent that it gives the plot away, because why would anyone need to read the book then? It also cannot be so pithy that nobody gets the point.
- People are in a hurry – you have only a minute or less to show them why they’d be losing out by not reading your book. Keep it under 200 words long. If you can manage it in 150, that’s perfect.
- Start the blurb strong – hook the reader right away just as you would do using the first line of your story.
- Make your characters interesting. They probably are and that’s why you’re writing about them – just make sure that it comes out in the blurb. Don’t go on and on about them, though, because there is a word limit and you have other important elements to include.
- Introduce the conflict and show how high the stakes are for your main characters. What happens if they lose? What happens if they win?
- Don’t overdo it – do not promise more than the story is able to deliver. Readers are savvy – they catch on. You want to build trust and loyalty. You definitely want the current reader to wait eagerly for your next release.
- Keep your audience in mind with respect to key words to use. Since I write romance stories, words like love, lust, attraction, chemistry, relationship, romance, and kisses appear in my blurbs. If you write murder mysteries, you’ll want dead bodies, murderers, machetes, cops, crime investigators, guns, knives, poison, and what not to figure in yours.
- Make it representative of your voice so readers get a glimpse of what to expect, but use short sentences. Also, break it up into short paragraphs so that it is NOT off-putting – it shouldn’t look like a big block of text.
- End with a twist or point to a dilemma that is compelling enough for people to want answers – and to, therefore, open the book and read it.
- Edit, then edit again, till it reads well. Allow no errors of any sort because, in the event of even an inadvertent typo, the reader might believe that that is how you write and will toss away your lovely book.
- Other things that are some experts say to include in the blurb:
- Quotes from credible people (famous authors or other creatives) who have read advance copies of your book;
- Reviews that you might already have up on Amazon or on Goodreads. These can be added to the blurb – or ‘book description’ as it is called – even after release, if yours is an ebook.
- Award information, if you’ve won any – it helps garner readers if the award is for the same genre as that of the current book.
Not sure if your blurb is working? Ask for help – share privately or on social media, and ask friends and fans to comment on what’s good and what isn’t. You could also create two versions and ask them to vote for the one they prefer.
Have fun writing that blurb, folks!
NOTE: This post was originally posted – some years ago – on the Love Romance Reads Blog